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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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" The above Decree was to be also applied " ran the official comment,
cc to the inhabitants of the western areas of the Ukraine and Byelorussian
(White Ruthenian) Socialist Soviet Republics, as well as to other Soviet
citizens of Polish nationality in other areas of the Soviet Union."
Requests for the granting of Polish citizenship were to be addressed to a
Commission of the Supreme Council, which would co-opt representatives
of the c Union of Polish Patriots.*
This Decree was to be widely applied, and affected those Poles who had
received Soviet citizenship in 1939 or later, besides those inhabitants of the
Polish settlements in Siberia, or elsewhere in distant regions of Russia who
had retained from generation to generation their language and national
By this same Decree, persons of Polish descent who were not born in
Poland, but who had come to Russia from other countries and taken Soviet
citizenship, could also have the right to take Polish citizenship.
This Soviet Decree, which forced Polish citizens who had never lost
their nationality to apply again for their rights of citizenship, was without
precedence in the history of international relations. According to inter-
national law, and the recognised rules of the entire world, " all that the
Soviet Government could have done, in any case," wrote the Economist^
46 was to free individuals from Soviet citizenship as only a Polish Govern-
ment had the authority to accept them as Polish citizens."
By issuing this Decree, the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. was able
to pave the way for any Russian to adopt Polish nationality in Soviet
Poland., and it could not be denied that., in the event of the necessity
arising, these people, together with their families, would constitute not
hundreds of thousands, but several million £ Polish citizens * with a
corresponding number of votes at their disposal. It was an improved
version of the voting in the plebiscites held in Silesia and East Prussia
after the First Great War, and of Hitler's c tourists ' .scheme in Austria
and Bohemia of 1938-1939. In the case of the Ukraine—c Ukrainian
citizenship * had been handed out by the Kremlin to so many Great
Russians and others that the Ukrainians themselves were ousted from all
positions of authority (See Vol. I, p. 217).
This freely arranged change of allegiance from one country to another,
was a characteristic feature of the mental make-up of the Soviets. Its
base lay in the eternal conviction of the Russian that only his Government
was the true Government, and it had its roots in the belief immemorial
of the divine right of this Government above all others.
Having severed diplomatic relations with the Polish Government in
the spring of 1943, the Kremlin, at the intimation of Britain and the
United States, appeared willing to renew them., but only on the condition
of the total surrender of that Government to Russia. But despite the
pressure of the British Foreign Office, the Poles could not go the lengths
of committing what amounted to a virtual suicide. Moscow played for
time* and one year was to elapse before any visible change occurred in the
situation. During that year, with the assistance of Great Britain, the